I am having one of those nights. You know the kind. The kind where you waste precious moments wishing you could press rewind and re-do the last scene (or two).
It all actually started last night. I went on a delightful shopping trip out to our new outlet shopping center, a mere 25 minutes away (19.7 miles, an estimated $1.64 worth of gas according to MapQuest). I window shopped for the first part of the excursion but then I got sucked into the sales. Oh the glorious sales.
I tried on a lovely pair of shorts and while I was waiting in line, I thought ‘why one pair of lovely shorts? I’ll get two,’ and so I grabbed another pair of the exact same shorts in the exact same size but in a different color. I left the store on a euphoric high…I had shorts that fit in my bag. Shorts that didn’t squeeze my mommy tummy out of the top; shorts that didn’t show off my pathetically sagging backside. Life seemed so, well, lovely.
Morning arrived. I gleefully pulled my new shorts out of the bag, ripped off their tags, tossed the tags into the trash and the new clothes into the washing machine. (Just a random note, but I NEVER throw away tags until I have washed the clothes…until today.) Hours later I tried on the shorts just to be sure I had not dreamed all their loveliness. The khaki shorts were just as lovely as I remembered.
But the gray shorts? The ones that were the exact same size, exact same shorts…yeah, there is clearly nothing exact about them. They are tight in all the wrong places, or in our house they would lovingly be referred to as shorts with VPL: code name for Visible Panty Line (as coded by my father for the times when we needed a fashion adjustment). Something a mama in her mid-thirties should definitely not be wearing.
Yesterday’s clerk’s face swam in front of my eyes as I remembered him specifically saying, “You may return anything for 90 days as long as the tags are still on.” The tags. Oh those precious tags were definitely no longer attached but maybe if I could find them, I could still attempt a return. I quickly dug through the kitchen trash can. And then I remembered that Dax took the trash out this morning after my de-tagging moment.
So I headed out in the cold drizzle and yanked this morning’s trash bag out of the trashcan. I pulled it over to the single bulb by the backdoor and began digging. But there was so much trash in there. And it was so cold outside. And every time I adjusted the bag so I could see better, I just ended up with the run-off from the roof dripping in my eyes. Frustrated I tossed it back in the trash can and vowed I’d search tomorrow.
I walked back into the house grumpy. I barked at Daxson, who, with good intentions, asked why I hadn’t tried on the shorts. I barked at William who was bouncing around. And then I barked at Andrew.
Andrew had walked out into the kitchen as I was washing the grime off my hands (and arms) and said, “You know what Mommy?” And I snapped, “Not now.” But he didn’t miss a beat. “Mommy. it’s just 90 more years til my birthday,” and then he realized his mistake and grinned that great big grin with those missing teeth and my heart softened just a bit, but not fast enough because the next words out of my mouth were, “Andrew, not now.”
Still he persisted. “I mean 90 more MONTHS til my birthday.” And then he crumpled into giggles as he realized again that somehow that wasn’t right either. I paused my inner drama queen and turned to face him. “Mommy, it’s 90 more something til my birthday.” “90 more days?” I asked. He wrapped his little arms around me and said, “Yes! You got it right! 90 more days. I know because,” and here he leaned in close and beckoned me with his little hand, whispering “I counted each day on the calendar.” And then unfazed by my mood he turned and skipped off to the bedroom to tell his brothers that in 90 days it would be his birthday (which, just for the record, is a bit off).
And I stood there, alone in the kitchen and I thought about those moments. I thought about how I had set a terrible example, letting my anger get the best of me as I needlessly barked at everyone as if the blame were to be found somewhere outside of myself. I thought about how I snapped at Andrew not once but twice and had he not been so persistent in his joy, I probably would have snapped a third time. I thought about how he wasn’t even fazed by my grumpiness…he didn’t let my mood affect him and I thought how lucky that was because in my grumpiness I had the power to ruin so many moods tonight.
But there was at least one little mood I didn’t ruin. Andrew’s. And in his joy, I found my anger dissolve. I found myself sucked into his excitement about 90 whatevers til his birthday and suddenly my drama over a pair of shorts didn’t seem nearly so important.
I wanted to press rewind. I really did. Because I didn’t want to snap at that excited little face. I wanted to go back and look into his eyes the first time he tried to get my attention. I wanted to cup his little face into my hands and celebrate the excitement over an upcoming birthday with all the attention it deserved. But I can’t.
I just get one chance. One chance to live each moment. One chance to celebrate each moment with proper attention. I have to be careful not to lose myself in the drama of superficiality. I am learning to immerse myself in the beauty of each precious moment. Because I just get one chance.